Atlanta Braves’ Mike Minor Must Do Better Job of Preventing Home Runs
Through the first month of the season, the Atlanta Braves had the best pitching staff in MLB. They held opposing offenses to a .226 batting average as a team and allowed just under three runs per game. The return of Mike Minor at the start of May seemed as if it could only bolster the team’s pitching. However, his inability to keep the ball in the ballpark has held him back.
Minor’s allowed six home runs in his five starts this season. Excluding his outing against the St. Louis Cardinals on May 7 (where Minor allowed six earned runs with only one coming by the homer), six of the seven runs he’s allowed have come via the home run. He shut out the San Francisco Giants before being pulled in the seventh inning in his only start where did not give up a round tripper.
The longball has been an issue for Minor throughout his career. He averages 1.1 HR/9 for his career, and the team’s record when he starts is directly correlated to his home runs allowed. The Braves are 32-13 in Minor’s starts where he does not give up a home run, but are only 18-27 in his starts where does give up a homer. There are obviously other factors like run support to consider, but preventing home runs is key for the southpaw.
Part of the reason why Minor has been so susceptible to giving up home runs is that he’s not afraid to pitch inside to right-handed hitters. In fact, over half the pitches Minor has thrown to righties this year have been on the inner half of the plate. This makes him very tough when he’s hitting his spots, but causes pitches to stray up and over the plate when he’s late on his release.
Minor’s return to the rotation is definitely good for the Braves, but he’ll need to do a better job keeping the ball in the yard to match his teammates’ success.